Plasticky click, low beep, FM static. Fingers wrapped around a knob, and the number 40 flicked onto a small orange-backlit LCD. The other occupants of the spruce green Cruiser fell silent and turned eyes intently on the driver as he snatched up his mic. His face was cold, but said he was completely in control. "Red Kenworth registration x-ray yankee foxtrot one one two, you are on fire. Do you copy? Over." There was no response, and he repeated the call. Again nothing. The man replaced the mic in its bracket.
Hazard lights blinked on. There was no point blowing the horn at 110 km/h, aside from the distance between vehicles. ..-. .. .-. . The car's headlights pulsed, but the truck driver evidently did not understand. There was only one lane, and traffic coming the other way. Waiting. Clear. Now. The turbo howled as the intercooled diesel opened up. 120, 130, 140. Beeeep bee-beep beeeep. "Signal to him."
The front passenger of the Land Cruiser wound down their window and motioned with their hand to the truck driver to pull over. The larger vehicle began to slow. A glowing ball rolled from under the trailer and into the long dry grass on the side of the road. "His spare wheel just... Mark!" A passenger in the back of the four wheel drive produced a red cylinder from under their seat in response to the driver's implied request. "Hang on..." The vehicle swerved in a well-controlled U-turn, accelerating immediately back to 110 for barely long enough to warrant it before pulling up on the shoulder, truck temporarily forgotten. The driver jerked on the hand brake, unbuckled his seatbelt, snatched up the extinguisher, and opened his door simultaneously. A patch of grass was happily crackling by this time, the wind was fortunately low enough to avoid rapid spreading. The man sprinted over and blasted his instrument, the flames were out nearly a minute later.
The truck was parked about 50 metres away on the other side of the road. The figure approached, discharged fire extinguisher in hand, and the trucker opened his door. "Mate, one of your spare wheels dropped down and was dragging on the bitumen." It was obvious by his reaction that the man being addressed had no idea what had just happened. He thanked the other driver as he climbed down from his cab, and walked back to retrieve the now destroyed wheel.
Handing the extinguisher back to his passenger with a nod and a raised eyebrow, the driver of the Land Cruiser checked his passengers and cargo and clicked in his seatbelt. The trip continued as if nothing had happened. Every mile the same, every town another name.